Samui Wining & Dining
Delicious? Definitely!
Noori India serves up amazingly good dishes and let you in on the recipes!

Delicious? Definitely!

India. A massive country, always on the move. Packed full of history, colour, possibilities. As a simple tourist you could take a 10-year holiday there, and then you could just about say that you knew this country – though many would still disagree with you. People tend to think of it as a homogenized area, when it clearly isn’t at all. There are different climates, geographies and cultures all within the same country.

          

The food is equally varied, and one of the few things you can say about it is that the dishes mostly include spices. Some are very mild, with Kashmiri dishes being delicately flavoured, while others blaze with heat. Then there are the different cooking methods. There’s the Punjabi tandoor oven, in which marinated meats, chicken and naan bread are cooked to perfection; there are skillets of iron to be heated on open fires; then pots, pans, steamers, skewers – just about every kind of cooking utensil is present somewhere in India. Its cuisine has captured hearts the world over. And these days you’re never far from an Indian restaurant.

          

Samui is no exception to the rule, but here you are in for a treat, a restaurant that’s received many accolades and is run by a hospitality professional and chef in the shape of Desh Deepak Pandey (usually simply known as D.D.). He’s the general manager at Noori India, and the person behind its success.

          

D.D. spent seven years working for the royal family in India, as general manager of the luxurious Desert Resort near Jaipur. Not only that, he’s also a highly-skilled chef himself. He hails from Rajasthan, in the north, a region steeped in history. D.D. has kept to the dishes of the north, with many coming from Rajasthan and the Punjab. Many of the recipes date back generations, and rely on freshly-ground spices and authentic ingredients, and are therefore bursting with taste. He knows all about the history of cooking and could easily write a book on the subject, but he’s entirely practical and puts his knowledge to work in the kitchen, delighting his guests with the dishes he offers. You’ll usually find him in the restaurant, though sometimes he’s up at one or other of the island’s luxury resorts catering for Indian weddings – he’s the go-to guy for these!

Delicious? Definitely!

With culinary skills of this level it’s not surprising that Noori India is popular with holidaymakers and local people alike. It’s centrally located in Chaweng, on the beach road, 100 metres north of Tropical Murphy’s. (If you’re looking to park your car, you can easily find a spot on the lake road, then walk through to the beach road, turn left and the Noori is a minute’s walk up the street.) The restaurant has done well for itself prompting D.D. to open a second Noori India further south on the same road, close to Poppies. He has also opened an outlet at Central Festival’s food court – if you’re here check out the excellent Thali he offers: a set meal comprising dahl, paneer, aloo ghobi, and naan bread, served with rice, pickles and chutney. Great value and packed with taste.

          

Noori India is a relaxing place to be, and you’ll first want to spend some time just browsing the menu, and then once you start eating you’ll be savouring every mouthful. You’ll be asked how spicy you would like your food, and naturally the staff are able to take your personal wishes into account. There are many fine dishes and in a short article such as this it’s only possible to cover a few. Fish comes in many varieties but any seafood lover will particularly enjoy the tandoori fish tikka which is cooked in the restaurant’s clay oven after soaking in a generous marinade of mixed herbs and spices. D.D. also offers a Goan seafood curry; (Goans know particularly well how to bring the flavour out in seafood and have some truly wonderful recipes.) You can also try a tawa which is a sturdy Indian griddle that’s brought to your table and consists of lamb, chicken or fish which has been cooked with Indian spices – absolutely delicious.

          

For meats the lamb shahi korma is hard to resist, and tempts with its delicate spices – it’s cooked in a tasty mix of almond and cream sauce so the meat becomes extremely tender. Chicken tikka masala is many a diner’s choice and is particularly popular at Noori. You can also have it as part of the restaurant’s popular set meal, which also comes with samosa, a mixed vegetable curry, pilaf rice and naan bread. If you’ve fallen in love with tandoori, then you might want to try the Noori special mixed grill, which is exactly as you might have guessed, a combination of all the tandoori specialties that the house offers - you won’t be disappointed.

Delicious? Definitely!

Good chefs are asked all the time for recipes, and many of D.D.’s guests want to know how to make Indian food, so he decided to start his own cooking school. Cooking classes are perhaps the ultimate souvenir of a good holiday – rather than taking home an object, you’ve learned a skill, one which will stand you in good stead with your friends and family. On Samui most classes are all to do with Thai food, so D.D.’s classes offer a rare chance to learn about Indian cuisine.

          

D.D. teaches the classes himself and knows exactly how to help you to get the best out of the recipes. The experience is one that’s relaxed but fun. Classes take three hours and you can choose between five menus, three of which are vegetarian. You could, for example, learn to make chicken masala or saag paneer, tender chunks of homemade cheese in creamed spinach, as well as learning how to make papads and cucumber and mint raita. D.D. is also open to suggestions, and can usually accommodate your wishes. Once you’ve finished cooking and everything’s ready, you get to eat what you’ve just made. There will be plenty, too, so you’re welcome to invite your partner or a friend to come along at this stage and help you out. Classes are held every day between 10:00 am and 1:00 pm.

          

D.D. and his team get full marks for sheer taste, great quality and very affordable prices. Whichever of the three Noori Indias you decide to eat at, you can be sure that you’ll love the experience. And last but certainly not least, when it comes to paying the bill for the feast you’ve had (portions are on the generous side), it all turns out to be very, very affordable.

          

 Dimitri Waring


 


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